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Monday, 28 July 2014

Highlights of Harrogate

The Old Swan Hotel, home of the Harrogate Crime Festival

The Harrogate Crime Festival is the highlight of many crime writers’ lives. It’s held once every year in July at Harrogate, and crime writers congregate there to let their hair down, as well as meeting their readers. Have a look at a video about the festival which you can access through this link. Video – Theakstons Crime Writing Festival a winner!

The festival seems to get bigger every year with thousands attending, and Simon Theakston in his welcome speech claimed it was the largest crime festival in the world. I was already aware that it was the largest crime festival in Europe, but I did wonder whether it would be the largest in the world. One thing is sure, it is certainly big, and there are certainly thousands of people who attend it.

Over the years many famous writers have graced Harrogate’s stage, and this year was no exception. There is insufficient space to mention every author who was there, or all the writers who were on panels, or who were interviewed on the stage, so I will just mention the ones that were the highlight of my weekend.

Lynda la Plante has to take first place. Her boundless energy and interesting anecdotes, plus her stage presence, held the audience's attention. Lynda had flown from America specifically for the Harrogate Festival and was returning the next day. I, for one, appreciated her dedication to her fans. I also felt she truly deserved the special award made to her as the winner of the fifth Theakston’s Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

Another frontliner who was there was JK Rowling who writes her crime novels as Robert Galbraith. The interviewer was Val McDermid, another well-known crime writer and a favourite of mine. The interview was interesting and I enjoyed it, although there were restrictions in place. For example, no photographs were allowed, and book signing was regimented with only one row of people at a time allowed to join the queue, while the next row had to wait until they were allowed to join in. Thank goodness I was fairly near the front, I hate to think how long the people in the back rows had to wait.
No photographs allowed, so you'll have to make do with the empty chairs

Last but not least, there was a special panel for Broadchurch, which was recently televised. On the panel were two of the actors, Olivia Colman, and Jodie Whittaker, as well as the producer and writer. Interestingly, the actors were not aware of the ending until the final episode was filmed.

I had a brilliant time at Harrogate and hope to go again next year.

Chris Longmuir


Kimberley Wilson said...

Just a heads up for anyone thinking of attending Harrogate's crime writing festival for 2015 - the event due to very bad luck is wedged between 2 of Harrogate's largest events = so booking any accommodation early is key.

Melanie said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful time, Chris!